sal_vager

Modpacks, should they be banned?

Mod repacks, time to end it?  

104 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Allow mod repacks, or ban them?

    • Allow repacks
      36
    • Ban repacks
      68


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43 minutes ago, regex said:

Then you accept the consequences of that.

Yes, we do have a social contract of sorts going on around here, and it's going to cause trouble eventually. Witness the stink over CKAN's past usage of licensing to always list OSS software no matter the modder's wish.

Explicit licensing is the way to go. Set the terms of usage of your work the way you want it used, do not rely on others.

Then license accordingly. Nothing says you can't add a redistribution clause to a BSD license (for instance).

A am willing to live with the consequences.

I think a custom license it not the optimal way because:

  1. I'm pretty sure that a custom license (be it for software or other things) has a questionable law liability (at least in my country) and i don't know of any (official) license that coveres this exact case of modpacks.
  2. When the mod author wants to distribute their mod via CKAN a custom license is not possible because CKAN requires one of the predefined licenses.
Quote

Yet there's nothing preventing people from redistributing and using your mods in ways you don't agree with, but within your licensing, outside these forums where such rules don't apply. The onus is on you, the creator, to set the terms of usage of your creation; relying on others to "play nice" is generally disappointing.

You are right, banning mod packs from the forum does not prevent them altogether. But:

  1. It seems that a more restricitive license is also does not stop some people from redistributing them. which causes a lot of overhead for the Moderators because they have to check everything if it is legal. The mod authors are botherd too because they have to be asked personally for every modpack if they gave explicid allowance to redistribute their mod with the mod pac in question.
  2. Banning them from the forums takes care of the majority of the cases. When linking to modpacks and/or modpack websites is not allowed then the modpacks are very unlikely to be popular and become a nuisances.
Edited by Nils277

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I mostly just lurk on the forums, but I'll give my thoughts after reading this thread (and this might summarize what's already been said).

Anyone putting a bunch of mods together without respecting licences: bad.

Mod author packaging many mods made and/or maintained by themself: good.

In short a "modpack" should 1) have permission to redistribute and 2) provide support for problems arising from use of the mods together.  I think anyone who takes the time to test and ensure compatibility between multiple mods as well as provide support for problems should be allowed to do so.  Of course, such authors should have permission to distribute all mods included.

Making a list of mods: good.

Anyone not willing to provide support should merely provide a list of mods and\or links to the respective mods.  Anyone who wishes to include mods that cannot be redistributed may also list/link to these other mods.

As far as Licensing, mods can then in three basic categories, community, permissive, and restricted.  Community mods are intended to be redistributed and are free to do so.  Permissive mods require permission to be distributed even as a dependency.  Restricted mods cannot be redistributed unless ownership is transferred.  Mod makers have the ability to provide clauses to their license that may restrict/expand on the license being used, such as an inactivity clause.

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15 minutes ago, Nils277 said:

A am willing to live with the consequences.

Well then why are you trying to add another layer of licensing on top of what you've already set out only for a specific place on the web?

Quote

I'm pretty sure that a custom license (be it for software or other things) has a questionable law liability (at least in my country) and i don't know of any (official) license that coveres this exact case of modpacks.

All Rights Reserved covers all situations. It says, basically, you need to ask before doing anything with this work.

Quote
  1. When the mod author wants to distribute their mod via CKAN a custom license is not possible because CKAN requires on of the predefined licenses.

All Rights Reserved isn't an option?

Quote

The mod authors are botherd too because they have to be asked personally for every modpack of they gave explicid allowend to redistribute their mod.

Isn't that what you're advocating for anyway, for people to play nice, to ask before they use your work? I don't see what the problem is with a more restrictive license then, you're just codifying how you want it done.

Quote

Banning them from the forums takes care of the majority of the cases. When linking to modpacks and/or modpack websites is not allowed then the modpacks are very unlikely to be popular and become a nuisances.

So how is that written to allow repackaging of dependencies? What edge cases are going to come up? What kind of headaches are the moderarors going to face? Bear in mind I'm all about banning modpacks but I also believe you have to take it that next step to prevent dependency packaging in order to make it fair and easy to enforce for moderators.

How does it work when I write some MM scripts and then package all the mods they affect, pursuant to their licenses, while calling them "dependencies"?

Edited by regex

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Doesn't matter what your licence is if mod repackers can do what they please off-site, so you may as well choose a license that you want your work to be enjoyed by here.

Mod repackers who are respectful can work, I've already mentioned one twice, he is willing to go the extra mile and I thank him for that.

The current ann-on rules can change a little though, to make it easier for the moderator team to remove low effort mod packs, while allowing the kind where due diligence has been observed.

A ban is a last resort, but it is on the table if it is necessary to prevent the kind of mod repacking that several respondents to this thread have expressed as unwelcome.

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Licensing still has the problem that you can't enforce it (excluding calling in the black helicopters* at night). Unless of course, and then you're getting the same with forum rules, it's used as a stick to hit people with. “Your post has been removed because it breaks a license agreement” or “Your post has been removed because it breaks a forum rule” might semantically different, they both result in the same (desired) action.

My personal preference here would be a forum role and a sticky page that a moderator can link to. “Please read this page as to why mod packs are not as good as an idea as you think they are.

I sincerely believe that education is key here. Most of the mod pack** “authors” probably think that their "work" is harmless and adds to the popularity of the mods involved. If anything, they're doing the mod authors a favor! How can anyone, anyone, oppose to that? That their actions, unless rigorous testing is involved, can possibly result in frustrated users, frustrated, and yes quitting mod authors is not something they'd even imagine.

So the MODPAGE FAQ outline should probably look a bit like this:

  • Why mod authors usually do not favor mod packs
  • Mod packs should add value
  • What to do before releasing a mod pack (testing)
  • How your mod pack should look like (only MM configs and/or custom DLL's included; instructions on what additional mods to download (and perhaps where to find them). "But if I don't include the other mods there's no reason to use this mod pack" is a good indicator that your mod pack does not pass the guideline of "adding value"

But the shorter the better; a wall of text is not going to educate; it's going to be skipped.

 

* I always wonder why they have to be black if they're coming in at night. It's not that anyone can see them in the first place because of, well, the lack of light!

** I assume we all know what kind of mod pack it is that we're talking about here; not the ones that add value and where the author adds a significant amount of work.

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30 minutes ago, regex said:

Well then why are you trying to add another layer of licensing on top of what you've already set out only for a specific place on the web?

I don't think that this is really a license but rather a rule to protect all parties involved from a lot of work/overhead touble.

Quote

All Rights Reserved covers all situations. It says, basically, you need to ask before doing anything with this work.

All Rights Reserved isn't an option?

I think CC-ND and ARR are available on CKAN. ARR does however restrict everything what i already stated is not an option for me.

Quote

Isn't that what you're advocating for anyway, for people to play nice, to ask before they use your work? I don't see what the problem is with a more restrictive license then, you're just codifying how you want it done.

A more restricitive license will be an obstacle for everyone who wants to build upon the work of another one. I know asking for permission is possible but still might be an issue when the original creator cannot be reached anymore to verify. Or some are simply too afraid to ask. This has the potential to doom a mod when the original creator disappears unexpectedly.

A forum rule would not have such problems.

Quote

So how is that written to allow repackaging of dependencies? What edge cases are going to come up? What kind of headaches are the moderarors going to face? Bear in mind I'm all about banning modpacks but I also believe you have to take it that next step to prevent dependency packaging in order to make it fair and easy to enforce for moderators.

How does it work when I write some MM scripts and then package all the mods they affect, pursuant to their licenses, while calling them "dependencies"?

I have to totally agree there. It is not an easy task to decide what is a mod pack and what a redistribution.

I think this is kinda similar to scientific research. You have to use the work of others to create something new. (There is no need to reinvent programming languages when you want to write some kind of novel algorithm or invent an alternative to quaternions). But there still has to be a real contribution from yourself, or else it would be called plagiarism. 

Edited by Nils277

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4 minutes ago, Nils277 said:

I don't think that this is really a license but rather a rule to protect all parties involved from a lot of work/overhead.

It is a license in that it's a rule governing usage. You, the author, should be setting that rule because that is how the rest of the world works. But now you're saying that all mods advertised here must follow even more rules than we have now (visible source being the most obvious) which creates exceptions and may prevent other authors from advertising here. By relying purely on author licensing we allow all to participate.

4 minutes ago, Nils277 said:

A more restricitive license will be an obstacle for everyone who wants to build upon the work of another one.

Don't I know that. The GNU GPL and other viral licenses have been pretty big obstacles for me in the past.

4 minutes ago, Nils277 said:

This has the potential to doom a mod when the original creator disappears unexpectedly.

This may not be an important argument for others (I, for one, don't really care). Whether a mod dies or not is purely up to the creator.

15 minutes ago, Kerbart said:

** I assume we all know what kind of mod pack it is that we're talking about here; not the ones that add value and where the author adds a significant amount of work.

No, I want to know exactly what is being talked about here because dependency packaging is creating "mod packs", that being a package of modifications. If the rules are not precise then they are open for interpretation and can potentially end up being unfair.

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First, I don't have a dog in the hunt, so my opinion doesn't count for much. That said, I have seen several examples of packs that are the exception and should be allowed but have not seen a single example of the problem packs. I mean I know no one wants to single anyone out, but I can only think of a couple of times I have seen such a pack. Generally the culprit is called on it by the mod author - or the forum blasts the individual for a pointless pack. Either way the issue seems to get resolved. What am I missing? 

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Just now, Red Shirt said:

First, I don't have a dog in the hunt, so my opinion doesn't count for much. That said, I have seen several examples of packs that are the exception and should be allowed but have not seen a single example of the problem packs. I mean I know no one wants to single anyone out, but I can only think of a couple of times I have seen such a pack. Generally the culprit is called on it by the mod author - or the forum blasts the individual for a pointless pack. Either way the issue seems to get resolved. What am I missing? 

The problem packs don't make it past the moderators, or don't survive for long and are reported and removed, but each one involves lots of work dealing with the member, the licenses etc.

We really don't have any modpacks as I would define them on this site.

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2 minutes ago, regex said:

No, I want to know exactly what is being talked about here because dependency packaging is creating "mod packs", that being a package of modifications. If the rules are not precise then they are open for interpretation and can potentially end up being unfair.

For a final rule, absolutely. For the discussion now, “I know one when I see one” would be sufficient, no?

For me, the litmus test would be: If all of the mods included would actually have to be downloaded separately, would the modpack still offer extra value over a post saying "just download and install mods X, Y and Z?” Extra value be defined as {blah blah blah}. I'm not sure about how to define extra value, but that would be a good test for a “valid” mod pack. Of course a test doesn’t make a definition, but it’s a start.

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2 minutes ago, sal_vager said:

each one involves lots of work dealing with the member, the licenses etc.

What about the status quo rules, plus: "If a moderator needs to click a download link or open any other thread to verify that a thread is OK, then that thread is not OK." This puts the onus on the person posting the thread to include all the info up front, and if a moderator is unsure, they can err on the side of easy moderation actions.

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2 minutes ago, Kerbart said:

For a final rule, absolutely. For the discussion now, “I know one when I see one” would be sufficient, no?

Well, no, not really. If I write a few MM scripts comprising, say, 50 lines non-wrapped tying twelve mods together (I could potentially do this in half an hour if I knew the mods and they were sanely laid out) am I packaging dependencies for my script or am I creating a mod pack?

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@regex I think we should agree that we have a very different option about this topic. It somehow feels like discussing politics :D

And yeah, the GPL is far from optimal too. 

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3 minutes ago, Nils277 said:

@regex I think we should agree that we have a very different option about this topic. It somehow feels like discussing politics :D

Licensing is politicking because it is very much philosophical and thus personal. I learned that long ago when working on other open source software.

Quote

And yeah, the GPL is far from optimal too. 

That was mainly an example to illustrate that one person's "free" is another person's "restrictive".

Edited by regex

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Would you all perhaps like to see the changes to the addon rules I am working on?

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Just now, sal_vager said:

Would you all perhaps like to see the changes to the addon rules I am working on?

Did you actually think you had to ask or are you farming "likes"? :wink:

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1 hour ago, regex said:

Did you actually think you had to ask or are you farming "likes"? :wink:

Hehe, okay I'll paste them here.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

General Add-on posting rules

0. Definitions

Add-on.

Original or derivative work intended to expand another work by adding or replacing files

 

Dependency.

An add-on included with an add-on that is required for it to function, license or permission permitting.

 

Pack.

An archive (zip, rar etc) containing multiple add-ons other than those of the submitter, which can be replaced with a list of contents, links to original works, or automated installer script to create the same end result.

Or to which any changes:

  • Can be removed and the pack remains viable.
  • Are insufficient to create a new derivative work.
  • Are suspected to exist in an attempt to bypass this definition.

 

1. Licenses

  • All add-ons, dependencies and packs that are posted on the services maintained by Squad that serve the KSP Community (such as this forum and Curse) must be accompanied by a license for each add-on contained therein, that regulates what other users can do with the copyrighted material.
  • These licenses must be made available in both the download file as a readme or license text, and in the location the user downloads from (such as a forum post or a Curse listing).
  • Packs of add-ons cannot be licensed as a whole and no ownership of a pack of add-ons is permitted.

 

2. Forbidden content

 

3. Mandatory content

  • Add-ons or packs must document all add-ons, plugins and dependencies they contain, including their authors, links to the original work and version in the download and in the download location.
  • Add-ons or packs that require permission for any content must include these statements of permission.

 

Plugin specific rules

4. Source code

  • All plugins that are made available on the services maintained by Squad that serve the KSP Community must have their source code be made publicly available. This can be achieved by posting it on a public code repository and linking this repository in every location you offer the plugin for download. Including the source code in the download file itself instead of hosting it on a public code repository also satisfies this requirement.

5. Forbidden code

Your plugin may not:

  • Edit, delete, or create files outside of the KSP installation folder and the operating system temporary storage locations;
  • Introduce anything in the game meant for profit. This includes ads and donation buttons; or
  • Remove or modify Squad logo's or copyright notices.

 

6. Contacting another network or computer system

  • Add-ons that contact another network or computer system must tell users exactly what it's sending or receiving in a clear and obvious way in all locations it is offered for download.
     

7. Gathering of personally identifiable information

Add-ons that gather personally-identifiable information and send this information to another network or computer system must:

  • Provide the user with an opt-in system within the game that requires the user to agree unambiguously with the information gathering and sending before any such information is sent; this opt-in system must inform the user of the goal and extent of the information gathering;
  • Provide the user with an option in the AppLauncher to disable the data gathering that is visible in at least the Space Center scene; and
  • Grant a user the option to review and remove all personally identifiable information that is within control of the person who maintains the add-on.

 

For the purpose of this rule, personally identifiable information does not include information that is sent beyond the control of the add-on author when establishing a connection to another network or computer system, such as IP addresses, so long as this information is not coupled and stored with the other gathered information. Personally identifiable information is defined as information that can be linked to a specific user.

8. Legal boundaries

You may not decompile, modify or distribute any of the .dll files or other files KSP comes with beyond content of the GameData folder. Follow the EULA. For assemblies, you may only use exposed public or protected members of classes, and you may not examine the code within any member.

Third party applications

9. Application of the add-on rules

With the exception of the first bullet point in rule 5, these rules equally apply to any stand-alone applications made available on the services maintained by Squad that serve the KSP Community.

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

Most of this is the same but it expressly permits what @SolidJuho is doing, while allowing moderators to remove anything less without having to waste time or bandwidth.

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4 minutes ago, regex said:

Did you actually think you had to ask or are you farming "likes"? :wink:

Yes, please, it may answer some of the questions

2 minutes ago, sal_vager said:

Packs of add-ons cannot be licensed as a whole and no ownership of a pack of add-ons is permitted.

Suggestion for a minor change on this one:

Quote

Packs of add-ons cannot be licensed as a whole and no ownership of a pack of add-ons is permitted, unless all the mods in the pack are owned by the same author

 

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2 minutes ago, linuxgurugamer said:

Packs of add-ons cannot be licensed as a whole and no ownership of a pack of add-ons is permitted, unless all the mods in the pack are owned by the same author

Well, the idea is you license each add-on in the pack, or all with the same license, the issue being that I do not want to see one modpacker claiming to own a particular style or content of a modpack, trying to prevent others from releasing a similar pack.

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Alright, watching the discussion the past few posts things are getting a bit scattered and straying from the original question asked. (My last post was guilty of this actually too.)

To answer @sal_vager's original question, I believe a rule change along the lines of adding the following rules:

1) A mod must post the version of KSP it supports.

2) A mod must post in the opening post in the forum a list of any other mod's it bundles, including a link to the appropriate thread and the version of the mod bundled.

2a) A mod can not support a newer version of KSP then all the bundled mods do.

3) Any changes made by the mod maker, either entirely new content, or modified content, must have their source available as per usual under the already existing rules.

I think this covers @sal_vager's concerns, I would expect that the majority of the "modpacks" that run afoul of the mods and get removed would fail rule 2 and the mods can just infract without having to download and inspect.

edit: And @sal_vager beats me to it, pretty much has what I suggested anyway, with the exception of the KSP version supported being required. I know that seems like a no-brainer, but if a modpack says it supports KSP 1.0 and KSP 1.2 is current, you'd like to think it would at least cut down on the people downloading it. I also like the idea of a modpack not claiming to support a newer version then all included mods do, but that's more variable as some mods do work fine after updating.

D.

Edited by Diazo

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3 minutes ago, sal_vager said:

Your plugin may not:

  • Edit, delete, or create files outside of the KSP installation folder and the operating system temporary storage locations;

Question about this:  I have a mod, Automated Screenshots, which has the ability to save files in other, non-installation directories.  I inquired about this rule when I first made the mod, and was told that as long as the default was to be inside the installation directory, and that it  had to be explicitly specified, that it was ok.  

Another mod, TotalTime, also saves a file in a user's home directory, but again, same thing, the user needs to be explicit about it.  Can you add some text to the rule to clarify this?

 

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1 minute ago, Diazo said:

1) A mod must post the version of KSP it supports.

I believe modders already do this, so no extra work for them.

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2 minutes ago, sal_vager said:

Well, the idea is you license each add-on in the pack, or all with the same license, the issue being that I do not want to see one modpacker claiming to own a particular style or content of a modpack, trying to prevent others from releasing a similar pack.

Understood, but what if a mod author wants to make his own modpack, for whatever reason?  Maybe I'm being too picky here???

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2 minutes ago, linuxgurugamer said:

Question about this:  I have a mod, Automated Screenshots, which has the ability to save files in other, non-installation directories.  I inquired about this rule when I first made the mod, and was told that as long as the default was to be inside the installation directory, and that it  had to be explicitly specified, that it was ok.  

Another mod, TotalTime, also saves a file in a user's home directory, but again, same thing, the user needs to be explicit about it.  Can you add some text to the rule to clarify this?

 

Well, naughty you, this rule has been in the addon rules for a very long time, since the time they were first posted actually and was introduced to prevent dodgy plugins from putting files in odd locations.

Just now, linuxgurugamer said:

Understood, but what if a mod author wants to make his own modpack, for whatever reason?  Maybe I'm being too picky here???

Well, the rule does state...

10 minutes ago, sal_vager said:

An archive (zip, rar etc) containing multiple add-ons other than those of the submitter

So if they are all yours or all maintained by you maybe we need a new word for it.

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This has been a very thought-provoking discussion for sure, and also a rather good lesson on licensing. My two cents are as follows:

I am not a modder by any definition, the most I have done is some custom MM configs that I have shared in the release thread for the specified mod. However, I think that as I have been installing constant KSP mods for years my opinion may be useful. The problem here is that a good portion of the community is not mod-savvy, as evident from countless installation errors in release threads. The people to whom modpacks are most convenient to are also usually the ones which least understand the drawbacks. It's a really easy way to avoid dependencies by having others do the work for you. Avoiding dependencies is only an issue if you're new to modding. For example, if you don't know what Firespitter or Module Manager do, then installing mods can seem intimidating. None of this makes up for the drawbacks of modpacks, I get it. And by no means should simply zipping and posting your GameData folder be allowed. But there is a serious argument for modpacks in the form of ease of use. How many headaches would it save for modders trying to do tech support in their release thread? Us experienced players don't really feel lost with their install because it's all familiar to us. Save for a few custom plugins, I usually know which dependencies to install, where to find them, and how to install them. For someone who just picked up the game, installing Kopernicus may go right over their heads because they don't know what it is. It's really hard to use and understand something if you don't know what it is, and modpacks help curate and consolidate that content.

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